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  • lindseytheresa

Can We Talk About Rejection?

Writers work hard, researching opportunities, following guidelines, and crafting and polishing pieces. We mine our trauma seeking the perfect turn of phrase, write our best work yet, and click submit before the deadlines. And then, we wait.


While we wait, we fantasize about winning (I do, anyway). I have held mock interviews with Deborah Treisman in my bathroom mirror and even attended the Giller Prize Gala in my dreams (might want to get a book published first, Lindsey!).


If a win does come, we craft excited yet gracious social media posts and links to our achievement. We bask in the short-lived virtual glow. Don't get me wrong. It's not the only reason I write, but it's nice to have something you worked hard on recognized by the literary community. It's nice to get emails of congratulations and thanks from readers.


it's nice to have something you worked hard on recognized by the literary community

But most (all?) submitting writers know that other feeling too—clicking the email with anticipation in your stomach, only to be replaced by a familiar lurch of disappointment. Another failure. Another rejection. Another hope dashed. These, we share much less than our achievements. We don't want to be whiny or throw a pity party. We want to forget and move on to the next big thing. We want to lose just as graciously as we win.


In the last couple of weeks, I've received the following rejections:


  • Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers

  • CBC Short Story Prize

  • Commonwealth Short Story Prize

  • Furious Fiction Monthly Challenge

  • Halifax Poet Laureate Application

  • Rattle Poet’s Respond

  • Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge

  • Watchword Poetry Contest

  • WFNS Message on a Bottle

  • Writer’s Trust Rising Star Award



Big oof. Amirite?


I know, I know. There are so many talented writers out there and as my friend Andrea likes to say, "There's enough cake for everyone—that slice just wasn't meant for you right now." But I think it's important to take a moment to feel your feelings before rationalizing them away. Allow yourself a moment of sadness before you put your head back down.


I'll extend her metaphor a little. Writing is the cake. Publication, awards, recognition... That's just the icing... But icing is delicious!


Writing is the cake, publication, awards, recognition... That's just the icing... But icing is delicious!

So this weekend, after I'm done licking my wounds, I'll try not to let comparison creep in and steal my joy. I'll remind myself that rejection means I'm writing and submitting my work, and that I can't win it if I'm not in it. I'll keep doing what I love to do: write. Rejection be damned!


...But if the universe wants to throw an acceptance my way, I will accept it... graciously ;)


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